Nathan Carter brings stirring country-pop with Irish influences to Eastbourne

Nathan Carter
Nathan Carter

Irish country-pop star Nathan Carter brings his Born For The Road 2019 tour to The Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne, this autumn.

The concert starts at 7.30pm on Thursday, September 19, and tickets for the show cost £33. Call 01323 802020 or visit royalhippodrome.com.

The 29-year-old artist, who grew up in Liverpool, is one of Ireland’s biggest live acts and is renowned for the hit songs ‘Wagon Wheel’ and ‘I Wanna Dance’. He’s released seven top 10 albums since he started out in 2002 and his most recent record, 2018’s Born for the Road, went straight to the number three slot.

Nathan says that his passion for country music stems from his childhood where it was pretty much the soundtrack of his formative years.

“My Grandad introduced me to artists like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, all the old great country singers,” Nathan explains. “He introduced them to me when I was about two to four years old.”

“I knew all their songs growing up as a kid,” he continues. “It was pretty odd going to school when my friends were all into Oasis or whatever the latest pop band was at the time. But the music became my life. I’d come home from school and I’d play the piano, I would play the accordion, and I was involved with the school choir as well.”

Nathan acknowledges that country is an odd musical preference for a British ’90s kid to have. After all, it’s a genre that generally seems to appeal to older people. And it’s one with a Marmite-like reputation too; people either love it wholeheartedly or they simply don’t get anything from it.

So what appealed to Nathan about this very specific style?

“I think I liked the melodies to be honest,” he says. “They’re always very easy to sing melodies, and with good stories. There’s always either a funny tale or there’s a sad tale.”

Country is also a genre that Nathan can pour his own cultural heritage into, adding a variety of Celtic influences to the sound.

“I grew up being part of an Irish family,” Nathan explains (his parents were from Newry, Northern Ireland). “I would have listened to folk music and Irish songs, which were always in the background and whenever there was a family party. I could play the piano and accordion as well, and play kind of Irish-y tunes and pub tunes on that. So it was inevitable that I’d include that in my show and that it would end up being part of the music.”

“I was always drawn to the accordion,” he continues. “My mum and dad used to take me into the town at the weekend, shopping or whatever, and there was always a guy who would busk in Liverpool. He would play the accordion and I used to stand and stare at him for, you know, ten minutes and they’d be trying to drag me away.”

“I must have always been attracted to the sound of it,” he laughs.

So was there a moment Nathan knew he wanted to be a professional musician?

“I think it was a gradual thing,” he replies. “I mean I’d always sang and played as a kid but I did work with my Dad on building sites when I was like 17 years old for nine months. And I think that really made me realise that I wanted to do music as I found it very tough,” he laughs.

“I was very fortunate that music was something that came easily enough to me and it just felt natural.”

Playing music might not be a challenge for him, but Nathan certainly puts a lot of effort into getting his tour right.

“We’re playing a couple of tracks from the new album,” he says. “I’ve got a couple of new band members as well, so we’re travelling with a six-piece band who are all multi-instrumentalists.”

“I spend a lot of time trying to make sure that the live show is as entertaining as possible. It’s really lively and, at the end of the day, we try to include the crowd as much as possible with songs that people know.”

“It’s a big show,” he adds. “And we’re always trying to improve it when we go back to venues to do something new and different.”

“We got to play the London Palladium earlier this year to a sold-out house, which was a really big achievement for us to play such a historic venue. I also got to sing for the Pope late last year when he came to Ireland in Dublin in front of about 80,000 people, which was a really big moment for me and something I’m proud of.”

However, even though Nathan has a concert, album and recent autobiography titled Born For The Road, he admits that the logistics of touring can be tough for him.

“It’s probably the travelling that gets me down emotionally,” he reveals. “Recently, we were in America doing six dates over seven days and the travelling is a killer you know? Flights every day, onto the gig, sound checks, do the gig, meet the crowds, back to the hotel, up early the next morning...it’s a gruelling schedule.”

“But the bit onstage I would do every day of the year if I could,” he adds.

And Nathan’s enthusiastic about the future as well. At the time of speaking to us he’s in the studio working on his next project, an all-folk album.

“Growing up with Irish music and Celtic music in the background I’d never actually recorded a full album of that genre,” he says. “So I’m in the middle of doing that at the minute and hopefully I’m going to collaborate with some different Irish acts that would be well known. I’m hoping to have that out towards the end of the year.”

Visit www.nathancartermusic.com to find out more about Nathan and his music.

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